Nancy Grace, Chaz Bono keep controversy going on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ — When ABC announced the cast for Season 13 of its popular dance show, Dancing with the Stars Monday night, the network had to know that two members of the cast in particular, Nancy Grace and Chaz Bono, would immediately bring controversy to the show from viewers. Reactions from fans Tuesday are bringing just that as viewers around the country respond via the Internet to the list of 12 new contestants.
Dancing with the Stars may have started out looking for cast members that audiences would immediately like or enjoy, but it has since learned with the addition of Bristol Palin and Kate Gosselin to former casts that having people who generate heated debates among viewers between those who like them and those who really, really don’t drives up ratings just as much, if not more. Given the comments from viewers on the Internet Tuesday, it appears that Nancy Grace and Chaz Bono may be the top two dancers this season who will get those conversations going right out of the gate this fall.
Nancy Grace is a former prosecuter who moved on to a career hosting her own television show on HLN. On the show, Ms. Grace presents legal cases from around the country that interest her and the public. She talks with people involved with, or surrounding, the case but also chats with legal analysts like herself about the case’s unsolved mysteries, the suspect or defendant, family members and friends of those involved with the case, evidence or lack of evidence in the case, and other matters.
Over the years, Ms. Grace has become more opinionated in her approach to discussing cases on-air. As a former prosecutor who talks about her own personal experience with crime (her former fiance was murdered years ago, an incident that left a deep impression on her and propelled her to study law), she frequently takes the side of the prosecution in her analyses of high-profile cases. Many viewers who believe criminals get off too easily in too many cases in this country consider Nancy Grace to be a brave and vocal champion for victims of crime.
With her coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial this summer, Nancy Grace became better known outside her own circle of fans. The case became high-profile at the start, many argue, due to the attention Ms. Grace gave on her HLN show to the missing child in Orlando, Florida right from the beginning.
Later, Ms. Grace’s arguments against Ms. Anthony (whom she nicknamed “tot-mom”) and her strong conviction that the young mother killed her daughter, Caylee Anthony, drew fierce reactions from those in the camp who believed as she did as well as from those who disagreed with her opinion or thought she should try to be more even-handed in her coverage. Either way, HLN’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, led by Nancy Grace, sent its ratings surging through the roof.
After the jury acquitted Ms. Anthony, Nancy Grace ended her show with the comment that somewhere “the devil is dancing tonight.” Many of those who do not like Nancy Grace are now pointing to that quote in light of her recent joining of the cast of Dancing with the Stars. Who is the dancing devil now, they ask.
Nancy Grace, then, comes to DWTS bringing both fans and haters to the broadcast, both of whom already have a track record of being passionate and vocal in their opinions. Reactions Tuesday to Nancy Grace’s participation in the cast include comments from viewers made on the official DWTS website: “I love Nancy Grace. She tells it like it is,” wrote “vmonroe.” “Nancy Grace is a DISGRACE,” wrote “sheri” a few posts above.
Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono, was born in 1969, the daughter of Sonny and Cher, the popular singing couple from the 1960s and 70s. The Sonny and Cher Show was a very popular variety television show back in the 1970s. Little curly, blond-haired Chastity Bono became part of the program when her parents would say good night at the end of the show, holding her up wearing a frilly dress to the oohs-and-ahs of their audience in the studio and at home. Sonny and Cher later divorced. Years later, Sonny Bono went on to become a member of Congress while Cher continued her work as a singer and actor.
Chaz Bono has said that gender identity and sexual orientation were troubling concerns for many years. Now 42, the transgender advocate underwent surgery to change genders from female to male and legally changed his name from Chastity to Chaz and proclaimed himself a male in 2010. The advocate wrote about the experience in the memoir, Transition, which came out in 2011. The experience was also filmed for a documentary that was shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN.
Dancing with the Stars will pair Chaz Bono with a female professional dancer for Season 13, though which dancer will not be officially announced until Wednesday.
People who are against transgender surgery or transgendered people who act on their confused feelings are already threatening to boycott this season of DWTS because of Chaz Bono’s involvement. On the show’s website, for example, “kingjames” writes, “Sick sick sick.” He says he and his wife always watched the show before but does not think they will this year. A poster called “nr” wrote, “I won’t be watching this season. I can’t imagine anyone with kids viewing this either. I hope these people get help.”
Others voice negative comments for reasons other than dislike or disgust over the gender change. They argue that Chaz Bono is not a “star” in his own right but is only on the show because of his surgery or only because his parents are famous. Still others argue that the contestant’s weight alone is a good enough reason against allowing the advocate to compete.
Others, however, defend the choice of including Chaz Bono on the show, or at least seem less turned off by it.
For example, “oldie” wrote on the show’s website, “Live and let live. He [Chaz] could be really entertaining in a good way. Good luck Chaz.” “Jeffrey” wrote, “You have SO many people rooting for you, man…We love you! My entire family loves you…Good luck Chaz, knock ’em dead!”
As usual, viewers have their opinions about the announced cast of Dancing with the Stars even before any of the cast members have stepped a foot on the dance floor in front of the cameras for their first live performance.
One viewer, “maria,” wrote on the ABC website with optimism about all of the cast choices for this season: “This is going to be interesting!,” she wrote. “Love the variety! That’s what makes the show so much fun!”
Dancing with the Stars, Season 13, will premiere on ABC with a two-hour program on Monday, September 19th. The show begins at 8 p.m. ET.
PHOTOS: Check out the Season 13 cast here.
MORE: See more Dancing with the Stars stories below!